The path to pregnancy is a fascinating mix of science, timing, and a sprinkle of magic from above. Whether you’re just beginning your trying to conceive (TTC) journey or you’ve been trying for a bit with no luck, get ready for some tips and tricks that will have you saying, "Why didn't I know this sooner?" As a fertility expert and someone who struggled with infertility, I know first-hand that this helps increase your chances of getting pregnant.
The Best Time to Get Pregnant
You’d think having unprotected sex whenever will eventually lead to pregnancy. And it absolutely can, but timing is everything when it comes to maximizing those chances. Let’s talk basics for a second. In order to get pregnant, both the egg released during ovulation and sperm from ejaculation have to meet and decide to make a baby. If you have sex when you’re not fertile, there’s no chance of pregnancy, no matter how many times you do it!
When to Have Sex to Get Pregnant
Here’s something that may blow your mind: There are only 6 days per cycle when you can get pregnant. This is what we call your fertile window – the 5 days leading up to ovulation and ovulation day. Your chances of pregnancy are highest when you have sex on the day before LH peak, LH peak day, and ovulation day.
Tracking Ovulation and Basal Body Temperature
Now that you have an idea of how pregnancy happens aside from the obvious, you need to know when exactly you’re ovulating so you can time sex perfectly.
One of the easiest ways to track ovulation is by using ovulation predictor kits (OPKs). These detect the amount of luteinizing hormone (LH) in your urine. Once your LH surges high enough, also known as your LH peak, it triggers ovulation to occur in about 24 hours – prime baby-making time! Though you can get pregnant by having sex up to 5 days before ovulation, you want to specifically target both your LH peak day and ovulation day.
Along with using OPKs, here’s one of my favorite ways to track ovulation: cervical mucus. This discharge that comes from your cervix changes as you near ovulation. When you’re not fertile, it can be anywhere from non-existent to sticky to creamy. When you’re reaching peak fertility, it will become clear, stretchy, and slippery resembling raw egg whites. So don’t be afraid to get up close and personal with your bodily fluids – after all, you are making a baby who will pee all over you at some point!
Your basal body temperature (BBT) – your body’s temperature at complete rest – is also something you want to monitor for a more in-depth look at your fertility. During your menstrual cycle, your BBT fluctuates due to hormonal changes. Tracking these temperature variations tells you a lot about your hormones, helps you identify your most fertile days, confirms that ovulation occurred, and identifies underlying issues.
To efficiently track BBT, you need a basal body temperature thermometer. After sleeping for at least 3 consecutive hours, check your temperature immediately upon waking before getting out of bed. Try to check at the same time each day to ensure accuracy and look for a spike in temperature that occurs 1-3 days after ovulation. If you don’t see a spike in temperature it could be because you haven’t ovulated yet, or there’s something more complex going on. If you feel your BBT is just not making sense, feel free to reach out to our fertility experts in Ask An Expert or meet virtually with a fertility expert through the Virtual Consultation feature located in our ‘more’ tab.
You’re probably wondering how in the world you’ll keep track of all this. Well, it’s simple! Let the free Premom app organize and help you understand your results. The in-app camera reads your ovulation tests for you and places them on a graph along with your BBT readings. You can track your cervical mucus as well as when you’ve had sex.
How to Have Sex to Get Pregnant
Want to know the magical position to increase the chance of getting pregnant? You may be surprised to know that it’s whatever works best for you and your partner! Sex while trying to conceive can feel scheduled and less intimate at times, so be sure to change it up and just have fun. Aim to have sex every other day during your fertile window and on both LH peak day and ovulation day. So there’s no magical position, only the one that works the best for you!
Natural Methods to Boost Fertility
The last pieces to the puzzle rely on getting your fertility in tip-top shape.
Maintain a healthy weight: Achieving a healthy weight can promote hormonal balance. Obesity (BMI ≥ 30) is associated with a higher risk of infertility as well as being underweight (BMI < 20).
Nourish your body: According to an article published in Front Public Health, “Diets high in unsaturated fats, whole grains, vegetables, and fish are associated with improved fertility in both women and men.” Consider adding some oats, spinach, berries, avocado, almonds, and salmon to your shopping list.
Exercise regularly: Engaging in 30 minutes of moderate exercise 3 times weekly improves blood flow to your reproductive organs. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy, just don’t be a couch potato!
Manage stress: Stress is directly linked to hormones, and we want our hormones balanced and happy. Finding ways to manage your stress is essential. Cut out some time for activities that make you smile and feel relaxed.
Do not smoke: A study published in Reproduction and Fertility shows that “smoking in women significantly decreases the chance of conception by disrupting ovarian function and depleting its reserve”.
- Limit alcohol and caffeine: While an occasional treat is absolutely fine, excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption hinders fertility. A recent article states, “a high intake of caffeine more than 5 cups or 500 mg per day delays pregnancy.” So enjoy a margarita from time to time and your daily cup o’ joe, just be mindful!
The More You Know
Take these tips for getting pregnant and run with them! This may be the best one: those increased chances of getting pregnant on ovulation day. You have some powerful tools on your belt, so let your LH peak, egg-white cervical mucus, and BBT patterns tell you when it’s time to baby dance.
Mettälä, M. & Botha, E. (2021) Sleep and fertility. Teoksessa Tuomi, J. (toim.) Preconception health and care - Handbook for education. Tampereen ammattikorkeakoulun julkaisuja, sarja B, raportteja 135, s. 172-180.
Panth N, Gavarkovs A, Tamez M, Mattei J. The Influence of Diet on Fertility and the Implications for Public Health Nutrition in the United States. Front Public Health. 2018 Jul 31;6:211. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2018.00211. PMID: 30109221; PMCID: PMC6079277.
Palomba S, Daolio J, Romeo S, Battaglia FA, Marci R, La Sala GB. Lifestyle and fertility: the influence of stress and quality of life on female fertility. Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2018 Dec 2;16(1):113. doi: 10.1186/s12958-018-0434-y. PMID: 30501641; PMCID: PMC6275085.